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Speak The Same Language – Create A Common Vocabulary

Category: Loving Relationships

Couple Reading Books Lazily Lying Down In Lawn
photo courtesy of luiginter

Assumptions Are The Termites Of Relationships. – Henry Winkler

There is always room for improvement, you know – it’s the biggest room in the house – Louise Liber.
Top 8 Life Hacks aims to improve different life areas such as – health, finance, relationships and self.

Life Hack #2 : Create A Common Vocabulary (Relationships)

How can it be that two people who speak the same language, interpret it differently?

When sentences like ‘You don’t understand me‘, ‘This is not what I meant‘ start getting regularly used, relationships begin to get difficult, increasingly frustrating actually. It is difficult to digest that what seems like a crystal clear, obvious message to you, could mean something else to your partner.

One way to ensure that your partner gets exactly what you are saying is by creating a common vocabulary. Have a key set of words, phrases and sentences which mean the same thing to both of you (please don’t assume they mean same, talk it out). You can create a common vocabulary by :

  • Reading Books

    Any kind of book you pick up will introduce and elaborate certain ideas. Because there is an explanation of each idea used in the book, when both of you read and understand these ideas, you start developing a common set of vocabulary – i.e. you have words and ideas which mean same to both of you.

    It is best if both of you read the book and then discuss it with each other – it enhances your understanding of the concepts and is fun as well. But if, one of you is not keen on reading much, the other can always read and share ideas from the book – they still would mean the same to both of you.

    Two books whose ideas we (me and my partner) use frequently are – Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus – John Gray and Awaken the Giant Within – Anthony Robbins

  • Taking A Relationship/Personal Development Course

    The logic to take a course is same as reading books – they will introduce words and ideas which will mean the same to both of you. Taking a course in relationship or personal development area will help you to work on yourself / your relationship as well.

    My partner and I are both quite interested in personal growth. Together we have done three courses from Landmark Education and a 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course. Each of these courses have impacted our lives tremendously and given us a whole new realm of ideas and key words which have now become a part of our common vocabulary.

  • Decoding Hints

    Of course, you can do the same thing by yourself as well. The best place to look for areas where you could create some common vocabulary is where you give hints – that is, where you say something and expect your partner to follow your line of thinking and understand what is it exactly that you want.

    For instance, what does it mean when you say you are tired? Literally, it just means that you are tired, you are sharing how you are feeling with your partner. But by some reasoning of yours, this could also mean – I expect you to help me with household chores today since I am tired, I need some quite time and am not in mood to talk since I am tired. “I am tired” can mean a lot of things to lot of people.

    An even better example – what do you expect your partner to do when you say “I am feeling sad”? For some, this means give me some space, I need to be alone to sort through my feelings. For some this could mean, please sit with me and talk to me, I need a hug.

While all examples that I have used are of couples, the same logic could be applied to all kinds of relationship – parents, siblings, friends etc. It will always work.

What do you use to remove the guessing out of your communication? How do you ensure that your partner gets what you are saying?

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Reader's Comments

  1. Cath Lawson | November 14th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Avani – this is good advice. Communication problems in relationships are a nightmare. Men seem to interpret things differently to women.

    I have found it’s best not to ask, “could you do this?” as often, they don’t seem to realise you mean now, or it’s important. Instead, you sometimes have to say, “I want you to do this now.” Not so polite but it works.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Click A Life Coach | November 14th, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Hi Avani;
    This is a common challenge for many couples that they don’t know how to communicate with each other. Very often it is not only the vocabulary that is different, they are actually using a completely different love language. Gary Chapman wrote a great book “The Five Love Languages” about it.

    On our website (see link above) you find a free quiz, that is based on his book and determines the love language someone is speaking.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Avani-Mehta | November 14th, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    @Cath: :) I definitely like “I want you to do this now” more. “Could you do this” leaves a choice open on whether you want to do this or not.

    @Click A Life Coach: Sounds interesting. Heading off to your site to try the quiz.

    Reply to this comment
  4. banji | November 16th, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Once a friend give me this advice when it comes to understanding each other.

    You and your spouse are at the beach standing. Both of you are opposite to each other. You then pick up a stick and write the number 6 on the sand. Your spouse will always see the number as 9 instead of 6. Nothing will change this unless your spouse see the number from your point of view.

    I’m not sure I’m telling the story right. But it surprisingly true.

    Nice tips Avani. Keep it up

    Reply to this comment
  5. Jannie | November 16th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    And oft times women just want to be heard and validated, whereas men are all about “fixing” things — nderstanding that can go a long way to filling in the communication gap if we understand that about each other.

    Jannie´s last blog post..And “The Real Jannie” is…?

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